I have been hesitant to write this post most of my pregnancy because frankly I felt like no one would care AND I also was scared that if I shared anything it would all be taken away from me, yeah talk about not okay. Then I thought more about it and realized that I have read dozens of women’s stories not because I’m nosey (okay, maybe a little) but truly because I wanted support and reassurance. So while my journey of pregnancy after loss will not exactly like yours and yours will not look exactly like mine I figured I’d at least share it with you in case it helps just one person. Being pregnant after a loss is really hard and scary but also really exciting so it’s learning to navigate joy and grief and bring a new life as well as a new mom (me) into this crazy world.
What Happens After A Miscarriage
I wrote about my miscarriage story here, so feel free to check it out. I had a rough start to 2020 as many did (hello, pandemic!) to say the least. We had been planning for a baby for a few months (we just got the timing off) and when we found out in February that we were going to be parents we were excited, nervous and everything in between. Then, the weekend before the world shut down (literally) I started to bleed. I was about 7+ weeks at the time and knew that some spotting and bleeding was normal so I tried not to panic. Well, the bleeding wouldn’t stop and there were some large clots that got me concerned. After many doctors appointments, bloodwork, and some awful contractions it was confirmed—a miscarriage—a life I’d never get to meet.
Let me tell you, bleeding while peeing will never ever be the same for me again, I didn’t want to go to the bathroom the second time around because all I would think would be “please don’t see blood on the toilet paper”. Luckily there was no bleeding this go around but that didn’t make the process any easier.
There’s not much talk about miscarriage in general. I truly didn’t know how common it was nor how truly painful it was. Thankfully people like Chrissy Teigen and Meghan Markle have stepped up this year and shared their stories. I know that the subject of loss is super taboo and it also makes people really uncomfortable. But when you feel uncomfortable try to think of the person/people who experienced the loss and recognize that the discomfort they felt is far more than you are feeling and they don’t need any miracle from you, they just need your love and support.
When you miscarry it can take some time for your body to heal. I was lucky. I had about 2 weeks of bleeding and then 2 weeks after that I had my first period post miscarriage. My midwife told me that we could start trying again as soon as I got my first period. We were debating whether we were ready and we decided that we were (I’m very lucky to have a very supportive husband who helped me through my darkest days) and one of my main reasons was that I wanted to know if in fact anything was wrong with me/us (it takes 2 to tango!). That may sound odd but once you have 2-3+ miscarriages they start testing you for other reasons that could lead to the miscarriage. I’m not saying I wanted to go through that again but I’m the type of person who would rather know sooner than later.
Your OB/midwife will tell you when and if you should try again. Luckily ours was super supportive and not pushy nor judgmental. If you don’t have a care provider like that, run and find one that is. It definitely depends on when you miscarry, how you miscarried (i.e. naturally, with medication, or with a D&C) and your mental health on when you can/should try again so don’t base your decision off of mine, we had a lot of conversations about it and it just made sense to us.
Pregnancy After Loss & How We Found Out
We found out we were pregnant right when my period was due in early June. I was tracking my ovulation and cycle because I wanted us to know if we were on track or not. It wasn’t the same celebration as the first time around. I woke up, took a pregnancy test and told my husband “well, here we go again.” I cried my eyes out and told him I was scared and he just told me we’d get through whatever this brought us. I tried my best to stay calm and focus on what I could control which was my expectations. Other than that we just kept on with our life, until the nausea hit HARD, but more on that later.
That all being said, pregnancy after loss was really hard, I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. I felt scared to breathe, scared to celebrate and scared to say or do anything that might jinx it. It’s something that I don’t think gets talked about because those of us who are lucky enough to have a viable pregnancy post-miscarriage feel guilty for so many reasons. I felt like I had to be grateful and happy to be pregnant all the time. The truth is I was, but I was also incredibly scared, nervous and bitter. Bitter you say? Yes, bitter. I felt like my first pregnancy experience was robbed from my husband and me. I will never unsee his face the first time I told him I was pregnant nor will I unsee the heartbeat-less fetus in my ultrasound, those are things that I just don’t have take-backs on, and I’m slowly learning how to move forward with those memories.
When I was pregnant again, I saw plenty of people around me celebrating their pregnancy and I wanted that to be me. But every day when I went into the bathroom I was scared of what I might see. Every time I went to the OB I was scared of what they would say. And every move I would make (i.e. working out, running too fast, sleeping on my stomach, etc.) made me wonder if I messed it all up. I tried not to let it shake me but I’d be lying if I was totally calm, cool and collected. I did end up telling my friends and family one by one. It took some courage for us to tell them but we felt better having them know sooner rather than later.
Miscarriage is usually caused by unknown reasons or by genetic issues that lead to a non-viable pregnancy. As a science nerd I knew this and still struggled with it. I still blamed myself and being pregnant so soon after led to a lot of worry and a lot of blame. I recognized this and decided that I needed to distract myself. So that is what I did. I threw myself into a ton of work, we decided to start looking for a house and move (locally) and I found other projects and things to work on. I don’t necessarily recommend this but that’s what worked for me. Instead of reading pregnancy blogs and getting weekly alerts on my phone about how big the baby was, I tuned out and distracted myself and it was what I needed to cope.
Pregnancy Care & How I Chose What Was Best for Me
I was very lucky to have gone through a miscarriage (as lucky as one can be in this situation) with such a supportive practice and midwife. I had no question of where I would go if I got pregnant again. I did my research before getting pregnant the first time and many people had recommended Albany OBGYN so that’s where I wound up. At this practice they have both Obstetricians (OBs) and Midwives to help you along the way. You are placed with the midwives unless you are higher risk and you see all of them (there are 5) throughout your pregnancy with some OB visits mixed in if the schedule makes it easier that way.
I knew I wanted to deliver in a hospital, it just is what makes me feel the safest in case any intervention outside of an un-complicated labor and delivery should happen. I also loved the idea of going with a midwife as I heard that they were more hands on and more supportive of whatever birth it was you wanted to have. So, the combination of a midwife + a hospital birth is what sounded the best to me. I have also had many friends go through this practice so it was a relief to hear they felt similar.
It can be really overwhelming when looking for a place to go through pregnancy, labor & delivery and I think there is just so much judgment in the area from other women it just sucks. I’d recommend thinking about what kind of care you want to receive AND where you want to deliver then ask around for advice. From there go to the practice and see how they make you feel. At my practice, the admin is a hot mess but the nurses, midwives and OBs are amazing and I have felt taken care of and comforted through both pregnancies.
Many have asked what I did to prepare myself for pregnancy. Honestly? Not a lot. I already eat a good amount of fruits and veggies and cook most of my food from home. I also have almost always had a normal cycle, 28-30 days on the dot with no real PMS symptoms or complaints. I did start trying to hydrate myself better, reduce caffeine intake to 1 coffee/day, reduce alcohol intake and get more sleep, but other than that I mostly educated myself on how to get pregnant (aka knowing the fertile window). I didn’t feel the need (nor should most) to diet or to do anything drastic so instead I tried to reduce stress and just see what happened.
That being said, I have a background in prenatal nutrition so it wasn’t all that overwhelming to me. I know some think that in order to get pregnant we have to be PERFECT with our diet and that’s just not the case. While, yes it would be great to go into a pregnancy with optimized nutrition, it’s also not the end of the world if you don’t. Here are a few things I’d recommend focusing on:
- Take a prenatal. You can start as early as 6+months prior to trying to conceive (TTC). A few of my favorites include: Thorne Prenatal, Fullcircle & Smarty Pants Gummies
- Stay hydrated. Work on getting ½ your body weight in ounces, you will likely need about 100 ounces/day when pregnant so get used to it!
- Reduce caffeine intake. You don’t need to stop but it is recommended that you drink <200mg/day when you become pregnant to reduce risk of miscarriage, so great to start beforehand.
- Reduce alcohol intake. This doesn’t mean stop it just means reduce it. Reducing alcohol can improve fertility but is also a good practice in case you get pregnant before you thought you would.
- Eat enough! You want to be fueling your hormones and hormones like to be fed. Eating 3 meals/day + 2-3 snacks is a great starting place. This will also help in your 1st trimester if you just don’t feel like eating a lot.
- Manage your stress. This one is HUGE. We cannot control everything but we can control how we manage our stress. So finding ways to focus on yourself can be helpful as it can be super stressful especially after ovulation to wait for a positive pregnancy test.
Those are the basics but if you feel like you are struggling, that’s where dietitians come in! They can truly help you learn if you are optimizing your nutrition and help you with any issues you may have. We are not the food police.
Okay, the first trimester this go around was very different. Yes, I was a nervous wreck but I also felt like complete crap starting around 5-6 weeks. Honestly, this was the most comforting thing that could have happened. Why? Because it let me know that something was happening in my body. I know that sounds crazy but after going through a miscarriage feeling like crap was hard but welcoming.
I was super nauseous all day long. I found eating every 1-2 hours was a must in order to ward off worse nausea and I also leaned into a lot of naps. My husband would find me on the bed in my then office at 2pm most days passed out, usually with Bode by my side. I didn’t fight it, I knew that my body needed it.
As for food, I barely touched a vegetable for weeks and the only protein I truly wanted was dairy. The hardest part for me was that I am usually the cook in the house and the aversions were worse when I had to SMELL the food I was going to eat, so cooking was not happening as much as usual. We also lived in a small townhome at the time and smells traveled very easily. I found that if my husband grilled and I couldn’t smell it then it would be way easier for me to eat. Otherwise, I stuck to a lot of dairy and relied heavily on ginger chews, peppermint candies, lemon heads and starburst, yes a dietitian ate A LOT of starburst.
The worst day was when I was teaching an online Air Frying cooking class. I had to fight back so much nausea it was AWFUL. The worst part? I had a recipe for air fried white fish and let me tell you, I had to go off camera because I started to almost puke (I did NOT thankfully) and when the class was over I made JJ eat the fish and clean up the kitchen ASAP because the smell of white fish was killing me. I still have no desire to eat white fish, that was probably the worst aversion of all.
As for cravings I really didn’t have any. I wasn’t craving the ginger/mints/starburst I just needed them to keep my nausea at bay. However, I no longer wanted my coffee or chocolate, they just didn’t taste good. I ate a lot of yogurt, cottage cheese, berries, crackers, pretzels and bagels. I leaned into whatever sounded good and went from there. At that point you are relying on your previous nutrition to get you through. I also had to switch to a gummy prenatal (the Smarty Pants one listed above) because the pill one I had been taking was making me SUPER nauseous even though I would take it right before bed.
A lot of people have asked me what movement looked like throughout the pregnancy. In the first trimester I still worked out but just couldn’t go as intense or do as much because I was SO tired. I still took Bode on a walk every day and probably worked out at home about 4 times per week. I didn’t really need to scale anything as far as movement (i.e. I could still run, do pull ups, do push ups, etc.) I just took it easy when I needed and took rest days when my body was asking for it. I knew that exercise was not going to cause any harm as long as I didn’t over do it so I kept at it. Honestly, it was the best I would feel each day so I made sure to prioritize it.
I had an 8-week and a 12-week appointment in this trimester. My midwife was so kind and on my first appointment she brought in a small ultrasound device (it looked like an iPhone with a small probe attached to it) to my bedside and was able to show me a small flutter, which was my baby’s heartbeat. I cried tears of joy when I saw that. Then for the 12 week appointment we had our first ultrasound, which JJ was allowed to come to (thanks COVID) and I spent the whole time watching JJ watch the screen, he was so happy and inquisitive it was truly so fun to watch. These were 2 amazing appointments and really helped to put a lot of my worries at ease.
We moved into our new house right about at the start of my Second Trimester. They say this is your golden trimester and they (whoever they are) are not wrong. At that point I was having more good days than I had had in a few weeks. I didn’t need a nap every day and I could eat vegetables, hallelujah! It was good timing too because we were moving all of our things by ourselves (and with the help of some friends) so I was happy to be functional. I still would have some days that I would notice I would overdo it and need a nap or feel some nausea but overall I would just have to keep reminding myself I was pregnant to be honest.
I really could have everything at this point. I still didn’t want white fish but I found most food was fine and the smells were no longer as overwhelming. I even stopped eating so many ginger chews/mints/lemon heads/starburst and really would be fine if I never saw most of them again. I still didn’t drink much coffee because it just didn’t taste good but chocolate started to taste better again. I didn’t have any cravings at all either I just found dairy still to be a great source of protein and added back in most of my normal foods and meals. It was a huge relief.
At this point I was still walking Bode daily, it’s just one of my favorite parts of the day so I hate to miss it and I know we both benefit from it. As far as movement, I felt SO much better so it was easier to get in the home gym and get a workout in. The only thing I started to scale here was pull-ups because I noticed that I started to cone (basically when your abs are creating a dome and can lead to diastasis recti). I was also swimming some (I started that at the end of the 1st trimester) which felt amazing. I probably worked out 4-5x per week and found I could do most of the movements I had before. Running got more uncomfortable by the end of the trimester so I cut back on that and we ordered an Assault Bike so that I could keep up some cardio. Other than that movement was uneventful.
This trimester was mostly mundane until the 20th week appointment. We had an ultrasound then and found out our baby was going to be a boy and also found out he may have a clubfoot. We had to go to a MFM specialist soon after that appointment (around 21 weeks) to check it out and turns out the kid was just scrunched up in a really weird position and all was fine, he had 2 normal looking feet. It just goes to show how far technology has come and how far it still has to go. I would be lying if I told you being told my kid may have a clubfoot wasn’t hard to hear.
I cried about it for 2 days and then JJ, being the practical levelheaded voice of reason told me that Mia Hamm and Troy Aikman (both professional athletes) had a clubfoot and that the kid was going to be A-Okay. That gave me a lot of perspective and I knew that he was right, our kid was going to be loved and cared for and that’s all that mattered. After going to the MFM and finding out he did not have a clubfoot it was a huge sigh of relief but MAN pregnancy can be such an emotional roller coaster ride, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. So know that not everything you see on social media is reality there truly are ups and downs when it comes to any pregnancy.
Ah, the final countdown! This trimester has felt like the longest for sure. Not too much has changed except for the fact that my belly keeps growing and my baby is kicking A LOT. He turned head down around 34 weeks. He was head up prior to that so our midwife suggested we try Spinning Babies to help him along. Most babies turn head down (I think the stat is around 97%) by the time of delivery so she wasn’t worried but told us it couldn’t hurt so we thought, what else are we doing in the middle of a pandemic? And it worked! OR he was planning to flip anyways, who knows, ha!
This trimester has been interesting with food. I’m not averse to anything but I’m also not craving anything. I will more or less eat anything but if you ask me what I’m in the mood for I will say “nothing.” I’m usually always good about knowing what I want for food so it’s been weird. I also get a good deal of reflux (it comes and goes) so I’m living my best Tums life and cannot wait for it to be a thing of the past. I often wake up in the middle of the night to pee and the reflux feels like I’m a fire-breathing dragon so I pop a Tums and go back to bed. I find that eating small, frequent meals is far better than enjoying a large meal.
This trimester I decided to go see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. Why? Well I was having some hip pain and then I was starting to have some pelvic pain anytime I would roll over in bed or when I’d kick off my shoes. I figured worse case scenario she’d tell me I was fine and I’d move on with my life. Well, turns out my pelvic floor was fine but my hips were TIGHT so I have been seeing her ever since and it has made a world of difference. I also no longer pee when I sneeze, so THAT’S a huge win. I still have some hip pain but she gave me PT work to do at home and I do it every morning and it has made a huge difference.
Other than that I have still been walking the dog daily, working out 4-5x per week and have even done some snowshoeing. I don’t run anymore mostly because it’s not comfortable AND because there is snow on the ground always, so hard pass. My workouts have slowed down, I take lots of breaks and I’ve changed up some movements based on the PT’s recommendation. My motivation to workout is pretty low but I always know that I will feel better if I do it so I make a point to do SOMETHING 4x per week even if it’s just getting on the Assault Bike and biking for 20 minutes.
This trimester means more appointments. I have now seen and met all the midwives and have enjoyed them all. Most appointments have been uneventful aside from the 36 week appointment where we had an ultrasound and I got the GBS test. Other than that no news is good news and now we just wait for something to happen (aka labor).
Plans for Labor & Delivery
A lot of people have been asking what my plan is for labor and delivery. I understand why people ask this but I also think there is FAR too much pressure placed on this part of the journey especially when a lot of it is out of our control. I plan on trying to labor at home for as long as possible and then take it from there. I am not opposed to trying it un-medicated but I’m also not opposed to using modern medicine either. I know that I know my body so I’m taking an approach of “we will see what happens” but in a very educated way. I have looked into all the options so that I know what is available to me and what I can ask for and have talked to JJ about it all as well so he also knows and can help me along the way.
We do not have a birth plan as it just doesn’t feel like something I want or need. I trust my care team to listen to me as they have this whole pregnancy and I also trust my support person (JJ) to have my best wishes in mind as well. I feel comfortable talking to health care professionals since I’ve been in the field awhile and know how to advocate for myself. Having a written plan just seems far too stressful to me. I also know that my midwife team and the hospital I’m delivering at does things like delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin contact so it’s not a worry of mine that it won’t happen.
Obviously time will tell but the one thing that a miscarriage taught me is that so much is out of your hands and the more you try to control it the harder it becomes emotionally and is just so stressful. I want a healthy baby to be placed in my arms and my health looked after, everything else is not really a big deal and if you find you are judging me or others then that’s on you, not me.
Now, what’s in my hospital bag you ask?!
Here’s a simple list thanks to my bestie who went through this this summer and told me what I did/didn’t need:
- Insurance Card
- Mask (because of COVID)
- Large Underwear x 2
- Overnight Maxi Pads x 2
- Peri Bottle
- Pants to Sleep in
- Flowy/Loose shirts x 2
- Clothes to Go Home in (i.e. loose fitting pants, shirt, bra, etc.)
- Flip Flops
- Slippers or Crocs
- Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush, hairties, contacts/glasses, et.c
- Nipple cream
- Phone + charger
- Clothes (i.e. sweatpants, underwear, shirts, slippers, sweatshirt)
- Bluetooth Speaker + Charger
- Phone + Charger
- Car Seat + Winter Cover
- Going Home Outfit
Postpartum Thoughts & Wishes
Once again, I know that I can plan all I want but in the end a lot will be out of my control. I have tried my best to read up on how to take care of a newborn, how to get a newborn to feed and how to breastfeed. However, I am keeping an open mind and know that there are a TON of ways to approach all of this and that every kid is different. I just hope that we find a rhythm that works for us and continue to drown out all the opinions of those that do not matter. It’s amazing how many people want to give their two cents when really it is OVERWHELMING as a new mom to hear most of it. I stick to the few people who I trust and who will know me best and let the others roll off of me.
Once baby L comes, I plan on taking 6-12 weeks off but just haven’t decided what that looks like. It’s hard as a business owner with no employees. I make money when I work and don’t when I don’t. I love that I have the flexibility that I can take off when I want but it also stresses me out because I don’t like not knowing when I will start work back up. We will see what happens.
My final thought here on postpartum is that I’m in no rush to “get my body back”. It hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, it’s done AMAZING work growing another human while also providing for me. I will be focusing on healing my body first while also providing fuel and a safe landing spot for my baby. When I’m ready for movement again I’m sure I will be moving, it’s always just been a part of who I am. If I’ve learned anything about pregnancy it’s that it’s not a race, it’s not a competition and you cannot “win” your pregnancy. As I’ve said before if you feel that way, that’s on you, not me. You judging other women based on how much weight they gained, how fast they “bounced” back or what they can/cannot do postpartum is totally not okay. So, no I’m in no rush to get my body back and instead I will focus on doing what feels best for me and baby and go from there. That’s the best we can all do.
Resources I Found Helpful
There are SO many resources out there so I will probably forget some but here are some resources I found helpful both before and during my pregnancy, I hope they can you too.
All About Pregnancy & Birth with Dr. Nicole Rankins (I also took her online birth course)
The Peds Doc Talk Podcast with Dr. Mona Amin
BabyName: it’s like the tinder for baby names. You and your partner can both download it and swipe right or left on names and the app lets you know when you have a match! (And no, we don’t have a name picked out yet)
Clue: helpful to track your cycle, ovulation and pregnancy symptoms/tests.
What to Expect: helpful to track your pregnancy and learn about what’s going on week to week.
Contractions: haven’t used yet but will be using when labor hits to track the contractions and know better when to go to the hospital (with the help of our midwife as well).
Also, I have other apps downloaded ready for when baby arrives thanks to my friends’ recommendations, these include:
- Huckleberry: for tracking feedings, naps, sleep, etc.
- The Wonder Weeks: to learn about the leaps babies make.
- Pampers Club: for diaper/wipe savings.
You can also shop my Amazon store as I’ve added some ideas from pregnancy and from my registry for what we have for baby!
Alright, that was A LOT. I hope you found it helpful or at least informative. I know I have found many others’ stories super helpful. Just remember that no two journeys are the same and that I’m not asking for any advice here only listening and understanding. If you have any questions just reach out in the comments or via Instagram, I’m an open book!
Best of luck and hopefully soon we’ll all meet Baby L.
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